Posts Tagged ‘youth’

businessman-banging-his-head-against-the-wall-ispc026073.jpgWell, with the short layoff I had, why not indulge in some double-dipping goodness?  Two posts for the price of one!  Well, here we go.

This may seem like kind of a rabit trail, but I think it’s an important one to begin with before I move on.  I am not unbiased.  No one is unbiased.  I’m tired of “objective” opinions.  I’m sick of “no-spin zones”.  We are all biased, and that’s okay.  We can’t be expected to see the world through anyone’s eyes but our own.  The important thing is that we admit our biases up-front so that when people hear what we say or read what we write, they know through what lens the viewpoint is coming from.

All that being said, I come from the point of view that the whole “church growth movement” of the past couple decades is pretty flawed.  I don’t think God’s major concern is how many uncommitted people we can get to pray “the prayer” and then go on with their lives as though nothing changed.  This might sound a little cynical, and for that I appologize, but I think that our churches need to be at least as concerned, if not more concerned, with quality as quantity when it comes to believers.  I can’t claim this as some kind of truly original insight into the state of our church, but it is where I’m coming from.  But, and this is a BIG but in my mind lately, at what point does our concern with quality become too reactionary against the movement for pure quantity that we lose sight of the fact that the church is supposed to grow too?

I’ve been at our church for about a year and a half now.  I put a lot of time and effort into designing my “vision” for our youth and young-adults (I’ve become uneasy with that term lately but that’s another post for another time) ministries and threw myself into it completely.  Over the past year I have seen a lot of spiritual growth in a lot of the kids in the youth group.  I think that has been going pretty well.  We’ve even seen some growth in the youth group on friday nights (which is something in itself considering we only have 3 senior high kids from our church).  The wednesday night bible study/volunteer night hasn’t been doing anything though.  There were two kids attending when we started, and there are two kids now.  They have a good time and learn a lot from the study and volunteering in the community, but it’s still just two church kids every week.  How many times should I hit my head against this brick wall?  Is it good enough to just keep going on in this wednesday night path with the youth study/service night because it’s effective for those two kids, or do I need to move on to something different because it’s pretty obvious that it is not meeting the needs of the kids beyond just our two church kids?

Similarly, I tried to get a “young adults” ministry going here this past year because there had been little to nothing in that area in this church before.  We met for coffee and conversation – some spiritual and some not – every couple weeks for the past year, and after the initial get together when we had eight people or so we had the same two people come every sunday night.  How many times should I hit my head against this brick wall?  We had some great conversation and learning time with the two people that came, but it’s pretty obvious that it wasn’t having any kind of mass appeal or outreach because there was no growth.  It’s a difficult situation because I saw so much growth coming from the coffee and conversation get-togethers, but how do you balance that with the need to reach out to others who obviously aren’t interested in the way things have been going?

I have a few ideas banging around in my head about what I can do differently for either the youth or “young adults” but they are almost so different that I’m a little scared to make a drastic step.  It may well be that I just decide to take the plunge and try something crazy.  It’s pretty obvious that nothing that I’ve tried so far is having much traction, but does that necessarily mean that I need to give it up, or do I keep going on with what I’ve been doing because of the great spiritual growth that I’ve seen in the few that do come out regularly?  The tension between focusing on making solid disciples of Christ and focusing on growing the group so more people can be ministered to is a tough one for me right now.  Do I keep going the same direction because of the obvious good things God is doing in people’s lives and trust God will mystically grow the group, or do I change direction to reach out to more people and risk hurting the ministry that we have to the people who are growing so much through what we’re doing now?  I really think that the focus of the church, and these ministries in particular, needs to be focused on making disciples: learning to think and live like a Christian.  At the same time, I think it’s silly to think you’re being effective in ministry if there is never any growth at all and only current members of your church are being ministered to.  It’s a question I haven’t come to resolution on yet, but I’m wrestling with it and hope to make it tap out with my rear naked choke soon.

oldman.jpgWell, it’s been a few days, but I have returned.  Oh no you don’t blogosphere, don’t think you can get rid of me that easily!  I have been on a youth retreat and back again, and have lived to tell about it.  Actually, all in all, it was a really enjoyable and beneficial trip.  The weather generally co-operated, contrary to what the forcasters told us.  We had somewhat cold but generally dry weather so we were able to keep warm enough in the cabins but also have the chance to go out and play some games.  The main focus of the weekend though was our focus on social justice issues.  I am a definite believer that preaching the “good news” gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Christ is important, but as I’ve stated before on other posts, I think modern evangelicals forgot about the whole “take care of the poor, widows, orphans, and aliens” and the “love mercy, seek justice, and walk humbly with your God part”.  I could go on for a while about that, but I’ve done that in previous posts if you really want to read more of my thoughts on that subject.  So the weekend was spent going through a curriculum called The Jusice Mission.

As usually happens when you go to teach a lesson, you usually wind up learning as much or more than those you hope to teach.  It was a great challenging weekend for the kids and myself.  It was apalling to see the injustice going on around the world that we so easily gloss over in North America.  On average, it takes about $500-$1000 to free a person from an oppressive situation (slavery, prostitution, etc.) in an overseas country.  In just a quick survey we had that amount of money invested just in ipods in our youth group of 10 kids.  It kind of gives you a sick feeling inside when you realize that you could have saved the life of a person but instead chose to use it to entertain yourself and thus provide yourself the necessary distractions to keep on going in the lifestyle you’ve always enjoyed.  I realize that there is nothing wrong with enjoying our lives here on earth, but I don’t think I will ever look at money in the same way again after this weekend.

 Getting on to the whole “one day closer to dead” part of my post, I am now 27 years old.  It really quite unbelievable.  It really set in this weekend when “I Want it That Way” by BSB came on the stereo as it was played on my ipod and none of the kids in the youth group had ever heard the song before.  I then realized that that song was a radio single when the oldest of the kids was four years old and the youngest of the group hadn’t even been conceived yet.  Now I realize that it was an oldish song to start with, but I never really realized it was that old.  Anyways, yes it’s true, I am now only three years from thirty.  For some I realize that thirty is a real landmark age, but for me it doesn’t really make a big difference.  I already feel like I’m old beyond my years with all the life experiences I’ve had over the past five years.  It’s like I tell the kids in my youth group, “enjoy your youth now because it’s all downhill after 21.”  Of course I say that somewhat jokingly, I do enjoy my life, but I can already tell that my body is sore, my time is short, and my responsibilities are high.  Life is good, but there are days that I yearn for the carefree dorm living days of 21.  Enough pining for “back in the day” though . . . I’m so old.

I’m Trippin’

Posted: October 19, 2007 in church
Tags: , , ,

roadtrip.jpgForgive me for the pathetic late 90’s slang, but I thought it would at least get your attention.  I’m going to be heading out on a youth retreat this weekend to West Bank Bible Camp with the kids from our youth group.  It’s going to be a fairly intense spiritual retreat with a focus on social justice; helping the poor and oppressed amongst us and abroad.  The curriculum we are going through is called “The Justice Mission“.  It should be a fun time for the kids to get closer to God and learn his heart for the poor and oppressed.  It is also going to be an exhausting weekend for me as I speak 5 times in 36 hours, lead music, lead games, and try to sleep and eat somewhere too.  So sorry if I don’t reply to your comments for the next couple days, but I’ll be back on sunday.